…and why! The same tourist attractions are mentioned again and again in the various travel guides and blogs that I read.
Most cities tend to have a variety of attractions which most of the masses flock to. With that being said, they should definitely have been stops on our recent visit to Lisbon.
How could you go to such a place and not see the biggest sights you ask? Here’s why we decided to pass-up on those attractions. First of all, we do not advise visitors of Lisbon to seek out these attractions. We have experienced them first hand, and decided not continue. For our preferences, they were not the right places to be on our trip. A lot of very similar experiences can be had simply by looking around. There is usually a free alternative to the majority of these attractions. These alternative activities also don’t require you to wait through long lines!
Castelo Sao Jorge
Castelo Sao Jorge lies high above Lisbon. It is quite a long walk from the nearest metro station, which is 30 minutes away. Thankfully, there are free elevators which save visitors from the exhausting hike. I actually only discovered the first elevator by accident. I followed a tour group and found myself wondering why the vanished into some building. I stood in front of the first elevator curiously, realizing that I have discovered an extraordinary alternative to walking. The second elevator is much more obvious and visible further up the mountain.
Upon our arrival we immediately found the entrance to Castelo Sao Jorge, which was constructed in the 11th century. Naturally, this was the home of kings. Because of this, the construction was very militarized with many guard towers. The fortress was almost completely destroyed during the earthquake in 1755.
Today, one can view the many renovations and reconstructions on a viewing platform, which is located over the city. The line to enter the fortress would have taken over thirty minutes to get through. Instead of waiting, we decided to explore the beautiful side streets around the castle. We didn’t have a good look at the castle on our walk, but we did see a lot the very pretty surroundings. When we got back around, the line was even longer. Because of this, we decided agains’t this attraction.
We decided to go down the mountain a different way than our initial ascent. We found a viewing point that did not have an entrance fee, and was only a few meters below the Castle. There are some other good views from here, as well. It’s possible to see even more than the castle for free!
R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo,
1100-129 Lissabon, Portugal
Elevator Santa Justa in Lisbon
This elevator was built in 1902. It is very visible in old town, largely because of its iron construction.
This elevator was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel. It is basically a freestanding elevator that connects the upper and lower parts of the city (which have a height difference of 45 meters). The elevator used to run on steam, but was converted to electric in 1907. There is also a spiral staircase on the upper platform, which leads to a viewing area where you can see the city.
When we arrived at the elevator, we noticed long lines at the entrance. A look upward gave us a little more confidence to walk; the height difference isn’t too bad. Going on foot is a recommended alternative to waiting in line. The elevator cabin is usually pretty full (up to 24 people). Waiting can take up to 15 minutes, even in the off-season! Riding this elevator is quite an experience. The viewing platform at the top is fantastic. With that being said, keeping your eyes open around the upper town can provide you with viewing areas that don’t cost you anything! We decided against this attraction, and admired the view of the city elsewhere.
R. do Ouro,
1150-060 Lissabon, Portugal
March – October: 7 – 23
November – February: 7 – 21
Santa Justa ticket: 5,00 € (2 trips, lookout platform)
Viewing platform: 1,50 €
Further variants are offered.
Tram Line 28
Originally, I really wanted to ride on the famous tram line 28. The tour begins at Largo Martim Moniz, and goes through the old town along with Alfama. This tram can also get you to Prazeres cemetery within an hour.
We saw the tram pass by us on our first day in Lisbon; it was incredibly full. I had hoped that the crowds wouldn’t be too massive towards the beginning of the route. I wanted to be seated at one of the few windows, instead of standing and swaying with the masses of people. I had intended to take some photos or videos. March isn’t a very popular time of year to visit Lisbon. With that in mind, we wanted to try and ride the tram.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by large crowds. We would have had to wait for three trains to go by before we would even be able to board. I already didn’t feel like waiting. Much to my dismay, the seating inside of the train didn’t look very comfortable. Because of these factors, we decided not to ride the famous “Tram Line 28”.
If you want to drive nevertheless, the trains of the Yellow Bus tour are substantially empty, but the journey is also substantially more expensive.